Since 1991, the Quixote Center has worked in solidarity with the people of Haiti building grassroots activism in support of more just policies. We also provide support for organizations in Haiti with an emphasis on local democratic control through our partnership with the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center in Gros Morne.
Model Forest on Tet Mon
In 1998 a community association was formed to address land erosion along the highway that passes through Gros Morne. The solution was to begin a reforestation effort on Tet Mon, a mountain near the highway. Runoff from the mountain was a major source of erosion on the highway. The program in Tet Mon took off and now it is home to a forest of 200,000+ trees. Now, persons use the forest as a space for community meetings, trainings and for exploring different planting techniques, including drip irrigation which is a vital technology for Haitian agriculture.
Tree Nursery and Outreach Project
Located at the nearby Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, a tree nursery was established to nurture saplings for planting on Tet Mon. The nursery now produces anywhere from 50 to 100,000 trees depending on the weather. The saplings make their way throughout the parish of Gros Morne thanks to the work of community organizers who travel through a network of 30 churches in the parish to do trainings with community groups. Part of the outreach and training is the securing of water sources with protective planting of specialized grasses and small trees.
The Garden and Training Project
Also located at the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center is a garden in which agricultural technicians explore different varieties of fruit and vegetables, and methods to protect the produce from pests. The garden is the focal point of a training program for local farmers to learn about cross-fertilization methods, insect control, and irrigation systems that make the most of a limited water supply.
Beginning in 2014, the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center expanded to include husbandry projects, including goats, fish, worms, and hens. The Center provides goats to families along with instruction on maintaining the animals. This allows families to diversify their income and pay their children’s school tuition. The Center breeds fish on site and distributes them to local farmers who are able to continue breeding them for selling purposes. This creates a sustainable income. The project also teaches farmers the benefits of incorporating worms into their compost systems. In efforts to provide women with more economic opportunities, the Center purchased hens and allows local women to purchase the eggs wholesale. In turn, the women resell the eggs in the local market for profit.
Haiti Reborn launched in the months following Jean Bertand Aristide’s historic election in 1991. The sense of hope and transformation that the election and the Lavalas movement created was soon undone by the September coup d’etat that pushed Aristide into exile for over three years and unleashed a period of extraordinary violence. The Quixote Center joined with others in demanding that Aristide be reinstated, advocated for the rights of those displaced by the coup, and sought to demand accountability for U.S. policies. In the years following Aristide’s return to the presidency and the return of elections, the Quixote Center worked with partner organizations to challenge the imposition of structural adjustment programs and other policy conditions imposed on the country. It was during this time that we also started a relationship with the reforestation program in Gros Morne – which has become a primary focus of our program work in the years since. In 2004 Aristide was forced from power again. The Quixote Center partnered with organizations reporting on human rights abuses under the U.S.-imposed Latortue regime. The Quixote Center formed a new relationship with KOFAVIV, a women’s collective that organized against sexual violence and other political violence in the wake of the coup. We also expanded our commitment to the program in Gros Morne following devastating mudslides in the north in 2004. Following the earthquake in 2010, the Quixote Center successfully mobilized emergency funds to assist those impacted. Later we worked with the Under Tents coalition advocating for the rights of those internally displaced by the earthquake and living in camps throughout Port-au-Prince. The goal was to stop forced evictions from the camps and to press for the International Migration Organization and other international and domestic actors to include members of grassroots camp committees in the crafting of plans for resettlement.